In 2001, the BOC began a longitudinal study to answer the question "Do the BOC CE requirements really ensure an Athletic Trainer can continue to practice safely and effectively?" In the nine years since the BOC Board of Directors established the Task Force on Continuing Professional Education we know a few things - not all necessarily new, but none the less still worth sharing.
First, we adults (or mature practitioners as I like to refer to myself) all have a preference for how we like to learn. The BOC has been very lucky to work with Dr. Gary Conti, one of the creators of the ATLAS tool to assess learning style.
(Assessing The Learning Strategies of AdultS)
Knowing how you learn can assist you when making decisions regarding the format of continuing education activities (e.g., workshop, lecture, observation, guided practice).
Personally, when I did the assessment I was classified as a problem solver, subgroup 2. Here is the information I received after I did the short assessment on the ATLAS site:
||Description: Learners who rely heavily on all the strategies in the area of critical thinking. Subgroup 1 likes to plan for the best way to proceed with the learning task while Subgroup 2 is more concerned with assuring that they use the most appropriate resources for the learning task.
||Characteristics: Test assumptions, generate alternatives, practice conditional acceptance, as well as adjusting their learning process, use many external aids, and identify many of resources. Like to use human resources and usually do not do well on multiple-choice tests.
||Instructor: Provide an environment of practical experimentation, give examples from personal experience, assess learning with open-ended questions and problem- solving activities.
OK - so this wasn't a HUGE surprise to me. But when I started thinking about the choices I have made in the past, choices on what type of activities to attend, I realized I probably wasted a lot of time and money. I can't think of many times when sitting in a lecture hall caused me to change how I delivered care to my patients. I knew it in my gut but that's how everyone was "getting their CE". Efficient use of my time and dollars would be to participate in something like a Grand Rounds or Journal Club - something that presents a problem, allows me to identify resources, research the problem, discuss with others and come up with a couple solutions to the problem would be great. And these types of programs exist? Where????
Well they do exist, but not as prolifically in athletic training as it is with other health care professions. Some groups of AT professionals have formed their own "company" for continuing education and they create activities that work for their group such as Journal Clubs and Grand Rounds-like activities. http://www.boc-digital.org/bocatc/2010spring?u1=web#pg6
Too often as consumers of educational programs we (the AT) had a "take what we can get" attitude regarding continuing education instead of putting pressure on education providers (a.k.a. demanding with our $$) to be more creative (which may be less cost-efficient) and really helps me learn something that will make a difference in how I practice. The BOC is investigating new methods and working with our network of BOC Approved Providers to help provide you a wider variety of activities in the future.
What type of "outside the box" activities have been learning tools for you? How can they be incorporated into formal continuing education requirements?